The Ultimate Cheat Sheet To Minimalism

One day last year the police were banging on my door, “Open up!” and the owner of the Airbnb I was staying at texted me, “Don’t open!”

Another time I was staying in an apartment owned by the head of the Central Bank of a major industrial country. I would try to figure out what she was going to do.

Another time I stayed in the house of the singer of the #1 song in the world ten years earlier.

And another time I stayed in the home of a photographer who only photographed red planes but owned an island and four other apartments. And nothing showed up on Google about him. Not even his name.

Another time I left a bad situation because all I had to do was pick up my one bag, walk out, and disappear.

Everyone has secrets.

I lived in over 50 different places after I threw out all of my possessions and started living in just Airbnbs.

I learned a lot about people. Mostly people disappointed me. Or made me laugh at how ludicrous it is to try and scotch tape a life together.

Most of us are just running from something. Including me.

People said to me, “It must be so freeing to be such a minimalist.”

No, it wasn’t freeing.

And no, it wasn’t minimalism. It was often a prison to my own artificial rules.

I was often sad and lonely. And as my friend Amy said, “You’re a bit creepy.”

So I moved into an apartment and started to piece my life together again.

So….this:

MINIMALISM IS:

– FREEDOM = YOUR JOY DOESN’T DEPEND ON THE DECISIONS OF OTHERS
– RELATIONSHIPS > EXPERIENCES > POSESSIONS
– SELF-IMPROVEMENT > VALIDATION
– ONLY GET WHAT YOU NEED.
– REDUCE TIME BETWEEN BUYING AND USE
– DIVERSIFY YOUR HIERARCHIES
– HAPPINESS = REALITY / EXPECTATIONS
– CONSUMER FEWER OPINIONS AND NEWS.
– BEING AT PEACE > BEING RIGHT
– QUESTIONS > ANSWERS
– BRANDS HAVE NO VALUE

— — —

Explanation:

A) FREEDOM = YOUR JOY DOESN’T DEPEND ON THE DECISIONS OF OTHERS

Tyra Banks told me she once had an idea.

The idea was: “The Real World” meets “America’s Got Talent” combined with her own experience in modeling

She told her agent.

Her agent said, “No. Nobody will relate to models.”

She fired her agent and figured out how to do the idea on her own. This year is the 24th season of the most popular TV show in America: “America’s Next Top Model”.

Freedom = More opportunity.

Freedom = You meet other FREE people.

Freedom = You can express yourself to a greater number of people. You become authentic instead of catering to someone else’s checkbox.

B) RELATIONSHIPS

The past two years I’ve had many experiences: business, standup comedy, podcasting, etc. All new and wonderful experiences.

These experiences required no “things” and they made me very happy.

When your inner compass points in the way of passion, you’re going to find the other people who have a strong inner compass.

This is your tribe. These are your friends. They are your inspirations. And then you become an inspiration.

C) SELF-IMPROVEMENT > VALIDATION

The other day I had an annoying conversation with a standup comic. I don’t even know his name. He said he had been doing standup comedy for 20 years.

He said, “Don’t think you can just walk in here and rise to the top. Stay where you are. You are nothing.”

I nodded my head but didn’t listen to him.

Every day I improve. Every day I make more people laugh. I have my own set of experiences over 20 years of communicating. I am my own authentic voice.

I will never outsource my validation, my self-worth, to anyone.

I don’t want validation from someone whose name I can’t remember. I get pleasure from improving.

D) NEED

Over two years ago I threw out all of my belongings.

Everything I had accumulated in almost five decades of life.

I don’t believe in the Marie Kondo method of “keep what you love”. It’s ok to not have something you love.

Life is about accepting the imperfections, not about clinging to the perfect.

But…

I need you.

E) DIVERSIFY HIERARCHY

I want more money.

I want to write better.

I want to have more ideas.

I want to enjoy time with people I love.

I want more health.

When money is not going well, I might write. When writing is not going well, I’ll spend time with someone I love.

I used to have only one hierarchy (money) and when it went poorly, I would feel horrible. Stress would spike. I would live in chronic stress.

But now when one hierarchy is not going as well, I switch to another where I can improve and feel happy. I diversify the experiences that give me pleasure.

F) HAPPINESS = REALITY / EXPECTATIONS

Example 1: Reality might be I have $1000. The reality is hard to change.

If I think I can only be happy with $1,000,000 then I will be unhappy. Reality can take years to change. But expectations can change in a second. If I can be happy with much less, I will be happier.

Example 2: Reality might be a person weighs 300 pounds but they think they will be happy weighing 200 pounts.

If they reduce expectations that it’s not the number of pounds but a shift towards healthier lifestyle then they can start that today. The final outcome is that they end up at 200 pounds and were much happier along the way.

G) CONSUME FEWER OPINIONS

I’m 30,000 feet in the air right now.

When I was in the airport, two stations were on: MSNBC and FOX News.

Both were reporting on the same story, but the headline at the bottom was almost exactly opposite.

One opinion is definitely wrong and the other probably wrong. And tomorrow, both will be forgotten.

I’d rather be reading how to love someone better. How to be of better service to others. How I can improve myself.

Or read a story (since opinions are just bad fictions anyway) that excites me more than meaningless news events.

In the past 18 years, actual news events effected me once (9/11, when I lived around the corner from the World Trade Center).

For some people, news events effect them much more. But most people seem to think the news effects them every day. It doesn’t.

If I can consume things that can better me, it will better all the people around me, and the people around them.

A single drop of water in the middle of the ocean, will reverberate out to all shores, changing the world.

That’s just my opinion.

H) QUESTIONS > ANSWERS

Is there life after death? Is there a way to slow down aging? Is it better to be “right!” or “at peace” with a loved one? What is the best way to be of service to others? To be kind?

If you have a choice is it better to help people in war-torn countries? Or to help stop slave trafficking?

I don’t know the answers to any of these. But thinking about the questions helps make me a better person.

Or maybe not?

— — -

I’m more minimalist than ever.

Because no one person can make decisions over my freedom, my self-improvement, and my relationships.

I hope I can live by this.

But… sometimes there is always the one with the key to my everything who could shut the lock and I will cry.

And that’s my choice.